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Dutch-Indonesian rice table

If you enjoy extravagant dining, and a table brimming with goodies, then an Indonesian rice table is for you. Spicy and flavoursome; just right!


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An Indonesian rice table is a familiar term in the Netherlands. In fact, a rice table is a Dutch invention and it has become part of Dutch cultural heritage. 

But what exactly is a rice table? There are many different Indonesian dishes that you can put together. It takes a lot of time and care to produce a rice table, but it is totally worth it. Usually, the preparation is spread out over several days, an advantage of which is that the flavours can then be allowed to fully develop.

It’s a table full of delicious dishes which you can combine to your own liking. Usually, these dishes are kept warm on hot plates, these hot plates can be heated in different ways; with tea lights, burners filled with flammable gel, or they can be heated by gas or electricity. 

There are no fixed combinations of dishes; everyone makes their rice table slightly differently. In general, an Indonesian rice table consists of rice, sajoer, chicken, meat, atjar, sambal and side dishes. Here are some examples;

  • Rice: white rice, nasi kuning, nasi goreng
  • Sajoer: sajoer green beans, sajoer lodeh, sajoer tjampoer
  • Sambal: sambal badjak, sambal oelek
  • Chicken: ajam betawi, ajam paniki, chicken satay
  • Meat: daging roedjak, rendang, daging smoor, lapis daging, babi ketjap
  • Fish: pindang ikan
  • Atjar: atjar tjampoer, acar ketimun
  • Side dishes: serundeng, prawn crackers, emping, rempejek, fried onions
  • Extra: lemper and egg dishes such as telor kuning or sambal goreng telor
  • Sweet: pisang goreng, Indonesian layer cake
Indian rice table
Indian rice table

Rice

The carbohydrate element in a rice table is, of course, rice. This is the foundation, and as the name suggests, rice is the most important part of the rice table. Basic, simple white rice is always served, such as fragrant jasmine rice. Other rice dishes are also served, such as nasi goreng or nasi kuning.

Nasi kuning
Nasi kuning

Sajoer

What is a sajoer? A sajoer is an Indonesian vegetable dish. It is made with onion and various spices, or a boembu. The most well-known type is sajoer beans, but there is also sajoer lodeh and sajoer tjampoer.

Sajoer beans
Sajoer beans

Chicken, meat and fish

A distinction is usually made between dishes with chicken and other types of meat. There are various delicious Indonesian chicken dishes such as ajam betawi, ajam paniki, chicken satay and more.

Ajam betawi
Ajam betawi

There are many meat dishes which are essential parts of a rice table. The most famous probably being Indonesian rendang. This is made from beef, and is slightly different from daging roedjak, lapis daging or daging smoor.

Aside from beef, there are also pork dishes such as babi ketjap or babi tjien. Sometimes fish dishes are also included, such as pindang ikan.

Atjar

What is atjar? Atjar, sometimes called acar, is a sweet and sour side dish and its purpose is to give contrast to the other spicy dishes. The most well-known is atjar tjampoer (acar campur), which literally means “mixed pickles”. Another example of an atjar is acar ketimun.

Acar ketimun
Acar ketimun

Sambal

Sambal is an essential addition to a rice table. There are many different kinds of sambal, from very spicy to milder varieties. You can buy ready-made versions, or make your own sambal. You can keep homemade sambal for a long time, and the greatest advantage is that you can adapt it to your own taste.

How to make sambal
How to make sambal

Side dishes

Delicious toppings and crispy side dishes should certainly not be missing. These not only give the rice table extra flavour but also add texture to the meal. Popular options are seroendeng, fried onions, emping, prawn crackers, or the delicious peanut butter biscuits rempejek.

Seroendeng
Seroendeng

Extras

Aside from the above-mentioned dishes, some extra dishes are usually added to complete the rice table. A great extra is the well-known, and delicious, lemper rice rolls. Often an egg dish is served as well, such as telor kuning, or sambal goreng telor

Telor kuning
Telor kuning

Sweet

Something sweet to finish the rice table is usually included, often in the form of the popular fried banana dish pisang goreng. The sweet element could also be a delicious spicy spekkoek.

Pisang goreng
Pisang goreng

What do you drink with a rice table?

There are no really specific drinks for the rice table. Usually, beer, (sparkling) water or flavoured water is drunk with a rice table.

Indian or Indonesian?

Finally, the difference between Indonesian and Indian, as already explained, the rice table is a Dutch invention. Historically, Indonesia was a Dutch colony (or the Dutch East Indies).

When this was no longer the case, many inhabitants were forced to leave for the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, this group of people is referred to as the Indian population (Indos), and they brought many of their dishes with them.

Indonesian dishes are authentic and not adapted to Dutch preference. These are authentic recipes as people in Indonesia cook and eat.


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